Chiang Mai hotels and travel guide, Thailand. Hotel reservation for Chiang Mai.

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Welcome to Chiang Mai
Introduction
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Experiencing the merging of the past into the present in Chiang Mai where locals are proud of the city’s 700-year history. Its rich traditional heritage and unique culture is a perfect foundation for the development of the city. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to find in the heart of the city centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. The original city layout still exists as a neat square surrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified wall and its four main gates offering prime access to the old town. Chiang Mai is a city built on the roots of a traditional heritage that dig deep into the soil of time. It's a city with a beautiful cultural personality of its own. In addition, it's been blessed with much majestic beauty in nature.

For years, tourists have mistaken Chiang Mai as the northern junction and the base from which they can explore other provinces. The phrase "a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around" was common. Today, tourists are surprised by the fact that there is always something new to discover Chiang Mai. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes coupled with breathtaking scenery makes Chiang Mai one of Asia’s most attractive tourist destinations. Two weeks in Chiang Mai may not be long enough for serious travelers.

The old city of Chiang Mai with its fascinating indigenous cultural identity such as diverse dialects, cuisine, architecture, traditional values, festivals, handicrafts and classical dances is a prime location in its own right. In addition, the presence of hill tribes and their wealth of unique cultures enhance Chiang Mai’s distinctive diversity.

Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources of mountains (dois), waterfalls, and other nature-based tourist attractions. At the same time, Chiang Mai residents are warm, gracious and congenial providing authentic hospitality making visits memorable and meaningful. Moreover, visitors from all walks of life can collect handicrafts of silk, silver and wood produced locally as timeless souvenirs. Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy themselves to the fullest.

The people themselves are an unforgettable part of Chiang Mai. Handicrafts of silk, silver and wood are timeless souvenirs for visitors from all over the globe. Along with all this, a wide variety of accommodation, restaurants, and entertainment all help to make Chiang Mai one of Thailand's prime tourist attractions.
History of Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan
Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan
Chiang Mai literally means new city and has retained the name despite having celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai founded the city as the capital of the Lanna (A Million Rice Fields) Kingdom on Thursday, 12th April 1296 during the same period of time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai the Great conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded.

From then, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also the centre of Buddhism in northern Thailand. King Meng Rai himself was very religious and founded many of the city’s temples, which are still important today.

At the height of its power, the Lanna Kingdom extended its territory far into Burma and Laos, and southwards to Kamphaeng Phet a province above Sukhothai.

The Burmese conquered the Lanna Kingdom in 1556 ending the dynasty founded by King Meng Rai that lasted over 250 years. As Burma had occupied Chiang Mai for nearly 200 years, Burmese architectural influences are visible in many temples. At the end of the 18th century, King Taksin the Great regrouped the Thais in the south and finally drove the Burmese out with the help of King Kawila of Lampang thereby regaining Thai independence from Burma. Chiang Mai was then governed by a succession of princes who ruled the north as a Siamese protectorate under the Chakri dynasty. In the late 19th century, King Rama V appointed a high commissioner in Chiang Mai and it was only in 1939 that Chiang Mai finally came under the direct control of the central government in Bangkok the same time the country was renamed Thailand.

In the past, Chiang Mai was only accessible by river and elephants. More convenient access was achieved only when the railway line was completed in the late 1920’s. Moreover, the first motor vehicle driven directly from Bangkok arrived in Chiang Mai in 1932. Such isolation was more favorable to Chiang Mai as it helped to nurture and preserve the unique Lanna culture.

When we look at Chiang Mai today, it is the economic, cultural and communications hub of northern Thailand complete with excellent infrastructure, good roads, by passes and road tunnels, and reliable communications infrastructure.
Local Culture
The people of Chiang Mai enjoy one of the most distinctive cultural identities in the whole of Thailand. Largely farmers and artisans, they have their own lilting dialect, their own customs, their own festivals, their own architectural traditions, their own indigenous handicrafts, their own dances and their own distinctive cuisine. Hilltribes also lend a great deal of character and color to the crisply beautiful mountainous landscape. The Lanna architecture style is adopted by many hotels to give their guests the real northern Thai feeling.
Population
With a population of 1,547,085 Chiang Mai is one of Thailand's largest provinces. Of the above number, 170,348 are currently living in Chiang Mai's city area with the rest distributed throughout Chiang Mai's 21 districts, 2 sub-districts. 80% of the people in Chiang Mai are locals by birth, and speak a dialect that is a slight variation of the central Thai language. The remaining 20% is made up of Thai nationals and foreigners who have moved to Chiang Mai to work, study, or retire.

There are many hilltribe people living in the mountainous districts surrounding Chiang Mai such as Omkoi, Mae Jam, Chiang Dao, and Mae Ai. Statistics reported by the Tribal Research Institute of Chiang Mai stated that in the year 1992 there were 1,049 hilltribe villages in the Chiang Mai province, constituting a total of 174,195 people. Of this amount, 106,116 were from the Karen tribe, 27,392 from the Lahu (Musur) tribe, 17,198 from the Hmong (Meo) tribe, 10,873 form the Lisu tribe, 8,862 from the Lua tribe, 2,609 from the Akha tribe, 1,145 from the Mien (yao) tribe, and 485 from the Palong tribe. The hilltribe people are agricultural; planting fields, raising animals, and hunting for a living. Since each tribe has its own culture and language, they blanket the hills of Chiang Mai with an interesting patchwork quilt of diverse variety.

The majority (80%) of the Chiang Mai people earn a living through agriculture and agricultural related professions. The second largest vocation is tourism and its directly and indirectly related jobs. General commerce and industry-mainly in the form of handicrafts, and of processing agricultural products--are the two other major professions in which the Chiang Mai people are involved.
Topography
Chiang Mai Gate
Chiang Mai Gate
A large part (69.31%) of Chiang Mai's land is covered by mountains and forests. These generally run in a north-south pattern through the province and give birth to several streams and tributaries (such as the Mae Jam, Mae Ngud, and Mae Klang) which in turn feed important rivers and irrigation canals (such as the Muang and Faay) which provide the water necessary to Chiang Mai's agriculture.

Chiang Mai's largest and most important river is the Ping, which originates in the mountains of Chiang Dao and flows southward for 540 kilometers (337.5 miles). It is along the banks of this river that Chiang Mai's flat, fertile valley area lies. Chiang Mai is also home to Doi Inthanon Mountain, which stands 2,575 meters (8,448 feet) above sea level and is the highest mountain in Thailand.
The Setting
Chiang Mai View Point
Chiang Mai View Point
Chiang Mai, with an altitude of approximately 310 meters above sea level, is situated approximately 700 kilometers from Bangkok on the Mae Ping River basin. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, the city covers an area of approximately 20,107 square kilometers and is the country’s second largest province. Chiang Mai borders Myanmar on the north, Lamphun and Tak Provinces on the south, Chiang Rai, Lampang and Lamphun Provinces on the east and Mae Hong Son Province on the west. The terrain is mainly comprised of jungles and mountains, which are home to the hill tribes. In addition, wildlife and exotic flora may be found in the national parks.

Most of Chiang Mai’s mountains are oriented from north to south. Together they create a multitude of streams and tributaries including Mae Chaem, Mae Ngat and Mae Klang. One of Chiang Mai’s distinctive features is Doi Inthanon, Thailands highest peak, which is 2,575 meters above sea level. In addition, the province boasts flat, fertile valleys, which spread along the banks of the largest and most important river in Chiang Mai Mae Nam Ping (Ping River) which originates from the Chiang Dao mountain range.
Borders
North : Myanmar East : Chiang Rai, Lamphang, Lamphun
South : Tak West : Mae Hong Son
Distance
Distances to Other Provinces
Lamphun 21 km Tak 265 km
Lamphang 92 km Mae Hong Son 349 km
Chiang Rai 182 km    
Distances from Amphoe Mueang to Other Districts
Mae Rim 8 km Chom Thong 58 km
Saraphi 10 km Chiang Dao 68 km
San Sai 12 km Hod 88 km
San Kamphaeng 13 km Phrao 103 km
Hang Dong 15 km Doi Tao 121 km
Doi Saket 18 km Chai Prakan 131 km
San Pa Tong 22 km Wiang Haeng 150 km
Mae On 29 km Fang 154 km
Mae Wang 35 km Mae Chaem 156 km
Mae Taeng 40 km Galyani Vadhana 157 km
Doi Lo 42 km Mae Ai 174 km
Samoeng 54 km Omkoi 179 km